Melbourne cafes

Melbourne is definitely foodie’s paradise, and for someone who comes from the world’s leading coffee consumption country, the plethora of out of this world cafes and roasteries is mind boggling. When coming to Australia, I chose Melbourne as my base from the get-go, and a year after I am glad I did. During the 12 months I spent in the coffee capital the world, I did go through quite a few delicious spots and dishes. Here are a few of my favourites.

Cafes
There’s plenty of great breakfast and brunch spots in most of the neighbourhoods, and I preferred to explore and venture to new spots instead of going to the same ones several times (though some were just too good to leave just for one visit).

Proper iced coffee.
Proper iced coffee.
Hipster interior design in Patch.
Hipster interior design in Patch.

Patch, Bendigo street, Richmond
One of the best feeds in Melbourne. All options are more or less paleo and gluten free, with a lot of variety. Go for the pancakes or the Caveman, a plate with a bit of everything. They make paleo bread in house, which is completely perfect in texture but in my opinion could definitely use some herbs or even salt.

Paleo waffles. Nom.
Paleo waffles at Patch. Nom.

 

Admiral Cheng Ho, Johnston Street, Abbotsford & Monk Bodhi Dharma, Balaclava
Two lovely vego cafes who have true passion for coffee. You can choose from 5 different beans for your coffee of choice, and enjoy a delicious and healthy breakfast or lunch while at it. Lunch specials on the black board, menu staples include amazing mushroom dish and a delicious acai bowl with superfoods like lucuma and maca.

Umami mushrooms, Admiral Cheng-Ho.
Umami mushrooms, Admiral Cheng-Ho.

 

Little Big Sugar Salt, Victoria Street, Richmond
In the heart of Little Vietnam, this quirky cafe is hustling and bustling with hipsters getting their fix from this cafe with the best menu ever. And by menu I mean the actual menu paper, with jokes, classified ads and even a recipe for their divine pancakes. Try at home? It’s good for glu-tards, cow-tards and fructose-free-ks.

IMG_4446

 

Code Black Coffee, Brunswick
This coffee roastery has another branch in North Melbourne, but I went only to the Brunswick one. They have a nice twist on the classic cafe staple, smashed avo, served with kale pesto and pistachio chia dukkah. Throw a poached egg and some goat’s feta in the mix and wash it down with freshly roasted and ground coffee, and you’ve experienced the ultimate Melbourne brekkie experience.

Mother of all breakfasts, Code Black Coffee.
Mother of all smashed avos, Code Black Coffee.

 

Industry Beans, Rose Street, Fitzroy
Another in-house roastery coffee shop, another industrial interior and guaranteed wait on weekends. Smaller and larger plates, either to share or devour on your own. More lunchy options besides your stable bircher, chia pudding and eggs. Delicious teas, too!

#.
#.

Bonus: Hot chocolate at Hash, Hardware Lane, CBD
This drink is an experience, and probably the most delicious hot chocolate you’ve had. 80% Mörk hot chocolate (made in Melbourne) in a glass jug, to be poured over a mug full of fairy floss aka cotton candy. Watch the chocolate melt the fairy floss and make the concoction sweet and deeeeeelicious.

DSC01210
Melting fairy floss with chocolate, Hash.
Advertisements

Australia brews

And by brews I mean coffee, even though there are some artisanal micro beer breweries around as well. Australia is well known for it’s high quality coffees and love for small, independent cafes and roasters. I was able to visit the Melbourne International Coffee Exhibition in Melbourne Showgrounds last Sunday, where I got properly buzzed with the different brews, beans and required paraphernalia, coffee lovers and meticulous professionals under the same roof. I also had a peek at the World Barista Championships, but didn’t stick till the end because more coffee was calling me.

Sampling Kenyan Gaikundo  from Z microloft, washed with 'clean, bright and sparkling syrup, with up front sweetness reminiscent of white grape, apple and lime supported by delicate undertones of kalamata olives and cherry tomato'.
Sampling Kenyan Gaikundo from Z microloft, washed with ‘clean, bright and sparkling syrup, with up front sweetness reminiscent of white grape, apple and lime supported by delicate undertones of kalamata olives and cherry tomato’.

Time magazine and New York Times both have touted Australia, and especially Melbourne, as the mecca of coffee. I cannot but agree to that, even though I have been exercising my mind strength and limited my cups mostly to wake-up drinks at work. Apparently there are around 300 coffee roasters in Oz, and about 40% of those consider themselves as direct traders, working hard to offer consumers high quality coffee. Sounds legit!

Cool-ass cups.
Cool-ass cups.

Why is the coffee in Oz so great? It all dates back to the Second World War, when Australia’s first green bean trader Ernest Singer found a customer base in the American soldiers stationed in Australia, who often visited Melbourne when on leave. The Italians also played a big role in the great coffee scene, since Italians started vigorously migrating to Australia in the 1920’s when Canada and the USA restricted their immigration laws. The Italians brought among them the love for espresso: while specialty cafes in Oz make more and more filter coffees, the majority is still espresso-based brews, unlike in Europe and The US where we often sip “house coffee” from the thermos, made in the morning and whenever the thermos runs empty. Australia is also acknowledged as the pioneer in the third wave of coffee or specialty coffee. Syphon, aeropress, pour over, cold brew and other methods are available in the neighborhood cafes, and it is not uncommon to order a coffee as you were ordering a particular type of fine wine; to discuss the flavor profiles and washing methods. You can have a 20-minute discussion over coffee and proper accompanying milk (organic, skinny, almond, soy; hot, flat, double) without no one blinking an eye.

Z's chillin' on the shelf.
Z’s chillin’ on the shelf.

This particular interest in origin, quality and atmosphere of the everyday joe made Starbuck close over half of its’ cafes in Australia due to “business challenges unique to the Australian market” in 2008. Ha! Unlike in Europe and the States, luckily in Oz the chain is not the king.

I drink my coffee black to get the most original natural flavors out of it, but I must admit I have spent quite some time watching latte art videos in Instagram and YouTube. Getting the perfect crema espresso and frothing the milk to form shapes is intriguing, and I haven’t had the possibility to practice in a long time now. One day I will make tulips and rosettas like tying my shoelaces. Until then, I enjoy the artwork of others and sip my cups black in small cafes where the varieties are carefully chosen and they know where their brews are from.

Oz life, 2 weeks down

Hello good people over the interwebs! I have been in the lovely lovely city of melbourne (sorry for the low case, but this keyboard seriously is making my life difficult) for exactly 2 weeks now. Impatient (and a tad perfectionist) as I am, I’ve had my moments of doubt and darkness; but very brief moments, since the shining new gym, sauna, jacuzzi and steam room in the apartment building I’m currently staying help with dealing with life crisis. So far I have walked across and around and up and down the streets of this beautiful city that has 4 seasons within one day. So far it has been rather pleasant even during the worst days, mind you.

Yarra river view.
Yarra river view.

After Asia times, coming to this Western environment has been such a shock that I have been eating sushi (hand rolls) every single day except for maybe 1 day. They’re everywhere! You can have them with brown rice, sometimes even black…and I can’t get enough. Specially when at the end of the day there’s discounts! I was not supposed to talk about sushi here…besides sushi, there’s a fair amount of other Asian heritage (and food), so one can easily feel homey, if the H&m and Ikea aren’t quite it. Food-wise, I also love the farmer’s markets. It is surprising how much cheaper food there actually is. And you get to have the conversations with the sellers, assuming they’re not too busy. And deals here and there as well, i.e a whole box of peaches for 2 dollars. From experience I can say that it is not easy carrying a box of peaches around town for a day.

You find this kind of stuff all over the place.
You find this kind of stuff all over the place.

I have kept myself pretty occupied with wandering and wondering about the future: I did agree to start writing blog posts for workingholidayjobs.com.au, which might mean more rambling on this turf, but who knows. I also got the opportunity to re-create the smoothie and juice menu for this one super cool and mouth-wateringly delicious semi-hipster restaurant-cum-coffee shop St.Ali, which I am pretty stoked about. Whee!
I do have a day job hopefully scored, but that remains to be seen, and today I finally managed to fix my missing apartment issue. Up until now I have had the luxury of staying at a friend’s well-set apartment in the CBD (Central Business District). I have truly enjoyed the brand new gym facilities and the rest, so we’ll see how I’ll settle to the “normal” life. It is about time I get a “normal” life, right?

I don't run here but I do see why some people do.
I don’t run here but I do see why some people do.

Yess, life. It is happening all the time but so far trying to arrange life has been a bit of a hassle. Like with the sim card that didn’t work after a week of trying, 6 online chats, 2 attempted phone calls from concierge’s phone, 2 promised calls to be made to my friends’ phone that never happened, and 2 days of waiting for a new sim card that never arrived. Amaysim, you did not deserve all that attention, attempt, and aggression I had for you. I hope no one will have to go through the same, when all the apartment ads and bureaucracies are asking for your phone number and you don’t have one.

Attitude.
Attitude.

There’s nothing wrong with hand rolls.

Last quarteryear

Dear friends,

I am still alive! (Not that I thought any of you might have thought I was dead because of what seems like forever-lasting radio -erhm- blog silence)

My last post was something about food, posted from my home at that time – actually my mom’s home- in Tampere. After that, so many things have happened, that they would be worth several posts. Anyhow, since it’s the New Year and the new year is all about looking back and ditching all the bad things and thinking positively about all the great things that lie ahead, I decided to make a comeback. No matter how unpopular this blog might be in the Finnish scale, since Finns read only blogs from Finns that are in Finnish (go figure)…here I go. Again.

La vie, c'est belle!
La vie, c’est belle!

Yeah, I went to Paris (and I did go closer to la tour Eiffel than that). For a brief few days in October, to visit NatExpo trade show for organic industry. Ate a lot of baguette, and have been gluten-free ever since! No more French paradox for me, merci beaucoup. The trip and all the pictures I took would definitely be worth a post itself, but I’ll just give you a hint: if you go to Paris, you must visit all the markets, i.e Bastille, Raspail (organic!), and if you get a chance, go eat in Sol Semilla. I didn’t, and I regret it. Paris, I’m not done with you quite yet.

Morning sunrise in Pyynikki
Morning sunrise in Pyynikki

In September I was feeling out of breath, and not in a I-just-ran-5k way, but in a What-the-f-am-I-doing sort of way that makes you want to just, well, I don’t know how to describe it, really. Long story short, I changed the view above to the biggest hustle and bustle I could find in this country: Helsinki.

Big city life.
Big city life, no kidding

Here I have been since November, busy as a bee. There was Smoothie national competition where I was not smoothing but working for my friend’s company, there was Chocolate Festival where I was working and eating myself up a weight category (though I don’t do any sports that require categories…), there was the Food &wine expo where I was promoting Vitamix for 4 days to people who were interested mostly only in free samples, there was the new job, the other new job, the thesis that finally got started in a way…and trying to figure out which gym to join or sport to start.

My “day job” is now working in a raw food/smoothie bar that is inside Finland’s oldest vegetarian/living foods restaurant. I have learned a lot about coffees and such, get to work with nice people and see people at my workplace (which is luxury), and get to eat proper food! Win win win. Maybe soon I’ll learn how to make the heart shape to cappucino.

Silvoplee, aka who wouldn't want to eat/work here?
Silvoplee, aka who wouldn’t want to eat/work here?

The other job has been editing and creating product descriptions for Foodin.fi, my friends’ online store that sells the best quality stuff I know and have had the chance to try. I am proud to be able to sell the same products in Silvoplee.

The best candy.
The best treats and Lasse.

The third job is not really job – I am working on my thesis for Goodio (chocolates, which just happen to be the best chocolate, pictured above). Coconut ice cream coming up! I have been extremely lazy on the thesis, but this Christmas time I got a kick to do it since it was pitch black and raining all the time, my brother and dad were in Thailand, and I just wanted to feel at least tiny bit proud about being miserable and stuck here. Mission accomplished.

Umm…I was supposed to post this on 2nd of January, but there was few things that got on my way…like a broken wrist. Anyhow, we’ll see how things go. See you soon, I hope!

More Carnivals and few tips for Helsinki

Apparently my time in Helsinki was all about good people, cakes and other (gourmet) food! NB: This post includes links to recommended places in Helsinki, most of them are in Finnish. However, I bet you get the idea and I do recommend you to visit even though you don’t understand much of the interwebs info. Reality is so much better, anyways. And they do speak English.

If you ever go to Helsinki and you care about what you eat and drink, I highly recommend Johan & Nyström in Katajanokka. I have posted pictures before, this time around I went for some serious cake tasting. The place has a good selection on different raw cakes and pastries, and you can also get different kinds of quality coffees and teas. However, there are better places to get your caffeine fix: Caffi, Kaffa Roastery, Gruppo Coffee Lab just to name a few better than average places…Helsinki has much more brewing on than in Tampere, and I still have more places to check out!

After Eight (the winner), Raspberry licorice, and lingonberry cake (skip this one) at Johan & Nyström
After Eight (the winner of the tasting), Raspberry licorice, and lingonberry cake (skip this one) at Johan & Nyström

Last Thursday was The Night of the Arts in Helsinki, which included loads of cultural events around the city. Since I was busy with the Raw Food course, I couldn’t attend anything, I just had time to visit Teurastamo, an old slaughterhouse nowadays a culture space and a restaurant, which hosted a night market carnival event. Too bad Evira didn’t allow crickets to be served for some ridiculous reasons, such as not all species are edible (not all mushrooms are edible, but some are still eaten! Why are the Asians eating crickets and still alive?), I would have liked to try those. In stead, we had some delicious summer rolls from Rulla, and my dad enjoyed some frog legs as well. This was my first visit to Teurastamo area, which also hosts a solar-powered kitchen. Pretty cool atmosphere and area!

Carnival in a slaughterhouse
Carnival feeling
Creative rulla-combos served with a smile
Creative rulla-combos served with a smile
Hammocks, frog legs and graffitis in a slaughterhouse
Hammocks, frog legs and graffitis in a slaughterhouse

I am back in Tampere now, but can’t wait to go back to Helsinki to try out few other places. I already had a terrific lunch for a fairly reasonable price (9,7€ for mediterranean appetizer buffet, main course and fruits+coffee) in Krog Madame, which besides the delicious food and good looking staff also has a nice patio. Another place with a nice atmosphere: Cafe Köket (the Swedish name is a bit misleading) near the big church. Nice service and good breakfast in Finnish designer environment.

Take your pick and move to the buffet table
Take your pick and move to the buffet table

Since I seem to have so many new favorites around town I might have to dedicate a separate post to them all. But while I’m at it (or not really), check out Costo, the coolest hats I know and own. I might have bought 2 new ones this past week.

Something was going on in Tampere this weekend and upcoming week: DesignOn Tampere and Design market.

Finnish hats, jewelry, clothes and artisan stuff
Hats, jewelry, clothes and artisan stuff from Finland

I love happenings!